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Research of practical utility lies at the heart of all activities pursued by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Founded in 1949, the research organization undertakes applied research that drives economic development and serves the wider benefit of society. Its services are solicited by customers and contractual partners in industry, the service sector and public administration.
At present, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft maintains 66 institutes and independent research units. The majority of the more than 22,000 staff are qualified scientists and engineers, who work with an annual research budget of 1.9 billion euros. Of this sum, more than 1.6 billion euros is generated through contract research. More than 70 percent of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s contract research revenue is derived from contracts with industry and from publicly financed research projects. Almost 30 percent is contributed by the German federal and Länder governments in the form of base funding, enabling the institutes to work ahead on solutions to problems that will not become acutely relevant to industry and society until five or ten years from now.
Affiliated international research centers and representative offices provide contact with the regions of greatest importance to present and future scientific progress and economic development.
With its clearly defined mission of application-oriented research and its focus on key technologies of relevance to the future, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft plays a prominent role in the German and European innovation process. Applied research has a knock-on effect that extends beyond the direct benefits perceived by the customer: Through their research and development work, the Fraunhofer Institutes help to reinforce the competitive strength of the economy in their local region, and throughout Germany and Europe. They do so by promoting innovation, strengthening the technological base, improving the acceptance of new technologies, and helping to train the urgently needed future generation of scientists and engineers.
As an employer, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft offers its staff the opportunity to develop the professional and personal skills that will allow them to take up positions of responsibility within their institute, at universities, in industry and in society. Students who choose to work on projects at the Fraunhofer Institutes have excellent prospects of starting and developing a career in industry by virtue of the practical training and experience they have acquired.
The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is a recognized non-profit organization that takes its name from Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787–1826), the illustrious Munich researcher, inventor and entrepreneur.